Re-Cap of Summer of 2011 Heat Records in the U.S.A.

By: Christopher C. Burt , 5:33 AM GMT on September 05, 2011

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Re-Cap of Summer of 2011 Heat Records in the U.S.A.: Perhaps one of the Four Warmest Summers Since 1895

The final data has yet to be compiled by the NCDC but the climatological summer (June-August) of 2011 is on track to be one of the warmest, if not the warmest, on record for the contiguous United States. It has, however, without doubt been the warmest for the South Central and Southeast (excluding the Florida Peninsula) regions. Here is a factual list of all the major sites (meaning those with a long period of record and of some metropolitan significance) that have just endured their warmest summer and/or their hottest-single-month on record. A list of all-time absolute maximum temperatures recorded is also included.

An Interesting Fact

San Angelo and Lubbock, Texas both recorded their single hottest month on record in June. Then in July those records in turn were broken. And then, in August, their July records were broken! In other words, in over 100 years of records for both cities, their three hottest-single-months were respectively, August, July, and June 2011. I do not believe this has occurred at any American weather station in recorded history.

Many sites, especially in the Southeast, recorded their warmest summer on record in 2010 only to have it broken this past summer in 2011. Given the long periods of record of these sites, this quite an accomplishment.

Phenomena of Endurance of Heat and Exceptional Warm Nights

It should be noted that it was not the actual extreme maximums of the heat that has been so remarkable this past summer but the endurance of the heat and the phenomena of many record high minimum temperatures. In fact, I will post a blog later on this subject since it seems to be an enduring quality of recent heat waves over the past years and deserves special attention.

The Data

Below are lists of all the important sites that:

1) Recorded their warmest climatological summer

2) Recorded their single-warmest month on record

3) Recorded their absolute maximum temperature

This list only includes the 303 sites that I follow assiduously since they all meet the criteria of long periods of record (POR), represent important population centers, and/or represent an important climate region or climate type (thanks to their altitude or geographic location). The sites represent where 90% of the nation’s population resides within a 50 mile radius of each location..

Below is a map of the sites I mentioned above. I have shaded the region that has just recorded its warmest summer on record. This represents about 15% of the contiguous United States (45 of my 303 stations).



Here is the list of some 45 (out 303) stations that have recorded their warmest climatological summer on record during this past summer of 2011:



Here is a list of the sites that have recorded their warmest single month on record (36 of 303 stations) during the summer of 2011. This may have been either during June, July, or August:



Here is a list of the sites that have either tied or broken their all-time absolute maximum temperatures during the summer of 2011:



Conclusion

So many heat records of various types have been shattered this past summer that it is impossible to quantify them. Many have to do with longest consecutive days with 100°+ or 90°+ temperatures or the aggregate of such. Suffice it to say that almost every site in Texas and Oklahoma broke such as well as portions of Arkansas and Louisiana. Furthermore, I have not mentioned the dozens of sites (from my list of 303 stations) that reported their 2nd warmest summer or 2nd warmest single month this past summer.

Not since the great heat waves of 1934 and 1936 has the United States seen so many heat-related records broken as occurred this past summer (not to mention last summer, 2010). The back-to-back nature of the intensity of the past two summers should raise some interesting questions, questions I am not qualified to address.

Later this month (around September 15th) we will have the final NOAA evaluation of this summer’s warmth relative to those past. The three warmest summers in the contiguous United States records (since 1895) were : 1) 1936 with a 74.6° nation-wide average, 2) 2006 with a 74.4° average and 3) 1934 with a 74.2° average. A mitigating factor this summer, however, is the fact that west of the Rocky Mountains the summer has been either normal or cooler than normal in places like Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

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18. rogerbechom
6:23 AM GMT on September 09, 2011
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At Detroit, the mean temperature was 79.3F, exceeding the previous record of 79.0F, set in July 1955 and July 1921.

At Fort Wayne, the mean temperature was 79.8F, exceeding the previous record of 79.5F, set in July 1955 and July 1921.

At Columbus, the mean temperature was 80.2F, tying the record set in July 1999 and July 1934.
Member Since: September 9, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
17. Christopher C. Burt , Weather Historian
11:17 PM GMT on September 08, 2011
Quoting ClimateChange:
July 2011 was also the warmest month on record at Detroit, Fort Wayne, and Columbus OH.

At Detroit, the mean temperature was 79.3F, exceeding the previous record of 79.0F, set in July 1955 and July 1921.

At Fort Wayne, the mean temperature was 79.8F, exceeding the previous record of 79.5F, set in July 1955 and July 1921.

At Columbus, the mean temperature was 80.2F, tying the record set in July 1999 and July 1934.


Thanks for this! I did a little more checking in that region and found that Toledo, Ohio and Lansing, Michigan also recorded their warmest-single-month (any month) on record this past July: Toledo with an avg. of 78.8° (old record 78.5° in Aug. 1995) and Lansing with 76.2° (old record 75.4° in Aug. 1955.

Also, NOAA just announced that this past summer has been the 2nd warmest on record for the contiguous USA with an average of 74.5° just .1° short of the summer of 1936 (74.6°).

Chris
Member Since: February 15, 2006 Posts: 265 Comments: 248
16. Neapolitan
10:01 PM GMT on September 08, 2011
Scorching Texas summer heat trumps Dust Bowl record

This year's scorching Texas summer heat, in a dubious honor, broke a national record once held by Oklahoma that had stood since the Dust Bowl changed the face of the country in the 1930s.

On Thursday, the National Weather Service confirmed what Texas climatologists and residents already suspected: The Texas months of June through August were the hottest three months ever recorded in the history of the United States.

The record was formerly held by Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl of 1934, said state climatologist John Nielson-Gammon, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University.

The average 24-hour statewide temperature during that time, including overnight lows and blistering daytime highs, was 86.8 degrees, he said.

That is more than a degree hotter than the 77-year record of 85.2 degrees. Oklahoma broke its own records this year, but held its average to two-tenths of a degree cooler than Texas, Nielson-Gammon said.

Texas is not generally known as one of America's hottest states. There are several areas in the country which routinely record hotter daily temperatures than Texas, such as southern Arizona and southeastern California. But those states also have higher elevations that bring down the statewide average.

Not so with Texas.

"It has been scary hot from one end of Texas to the other," Nielson-Gammon said, adding that Texas has been so hot essentially because it has been so dry.

"The dryer it is, the hotter the ground gets during the summer, and it becomes a cycle that feeds on itself," he said. "It gets dryer, and it gets hotter."

The 12 months ending on August 31 were the driest 12 months in Texas history, with most of the state receiving just 21 percent of its annual average rainfall.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13263
15. ClimateChange
7:16 PM GMT on September 08, 2011
July 2011 was also the warmest month on record at Detroit, Fort Wayne, and Columbus OH.

At Detroit, the mean temperature was 79.3F, exceeding the previous record of 79.0F, set in July 1955 and July 1921.

At Fort Wayne, the mean temperature was 79.8F, exceeding the previous record of 79.5F, set in July 1955 and July 1921.

At Columbus, the mean temperature was 80.2F, tying the record set in July 1999 and July 1934.
Member Since: September 8, 2011 Posts: 8 Comments: 236
14. Christopher C. Burt , Weather Historian
3:45 AM GMT on September 08, 2011
Quoting LobsterSteve:
Mr. Burt-- You missed my neck of the woods. Portland, Maine: July was *the* warmest month on record.


Krikes! You are right. Portland, Maine averaged 72.7° this past July. This beats out the former single-warmest-month on record of 72.4 set in July 1994.

Add it to the list.

Thanks!
Member Since: February 15, 2006 Posts: 265 Comments: 248
10. Christopher C. Burt , Weather Historian
3:31 AM GMT on September 08, 2011
Quoting ColoradoBob1:


Thanks Maine, August was the warmest August in :
Denver
Ft. Collins
Augusta Ga.

Augusta, Ga. recorded the hottest August on record.


I only mentioned, or catalogued all-time-single month (of ALL months ever) or all-time climatological summers (June-Aug) on record in my blog. There were so many hottest August's or hottest July's, etc.. on record that is simply impossible to list them all.
Member Since: February 15, 2006 Posts: 265 Comments: 248
9. ColoradoBob1
2:47 AM GMT on September 08, 2011
Quoting LobsterSteve:
Mr. Burt-- You missed my neck of the woods. Portland, Maine: July was *the* warmest month on record.


Thanks Maine, August was the warmest August in :
Denver
Ft. Collins
Augusta Ga.

Augusta, Ga. recorded the hottest August on record.
Member Since: August 13, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1393
8. ColoradoBob1
2:40 AM GMT on September 08, 2011
CB -
You wrote the book on the drought in Texas this year with your "Interesting Fact" , I'm at Lubbock , I was born here.

Many thanks for your work.


San Angelo and Lubbock, Texas both recorded their single hottest month on record in June. Then in July those records in turn were broken. And then, in August, their July records were broken! In other words, in over 100 years of records for both cities, their three hottest-single-months were respectively, August, July, and June 2011. I do not believe this has occurred at any American weather station in recorded history.


Please note the size of these new records . The old numbers weren't just "bested" , they were run over like a "cross-town bus".

Please get someone to plot this , both towns 3 colors for each month. June, July, etc. 100 years.
Member Since: August 13, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1393
7. LobsterSteve
1:51 AM GMT on September 08, 2011
Mr. Burt-- You missed my neck of the woods. Portland, Maine: July was *the* warmest month on record.
Member Since: October 9, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 2
6. Christopher C. Burt , Weather Historian
11:57 PM GMT on September 06, 2011
Quoting noraed:
Thanks.

Is a larger version of that map available?


Yes, there is (one where you can read the station names!). Since the WU page only can fit 640 pixel width, I had to reduce te res. For those who would like the high res version please send me your email address (I can't send via WU because of file size) and I'll forward to you.
Member Since: February 15, 2006 Posts: 265 Comments: 248
5. BaltimoreBrian
9:27 PM GMT on September 06, 2011
I looked at the Phoenix page and Phoenix set a record for the highest daily minimum in September yesterday, September 4th. 91.
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 25 Comments: 8004
4. noraed
1:58 PM GMT on September 06, 2011
Thanks.

Is a larger version of that map available?
Member Since: November 28, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 3
3. Christopher C. Burt , Weather Historian
10:48 PM GMT on September 05, 2011
Quoting petewxwatcher:
Here's another one. Record number of days reaching 110 or more in Phoenix AZ this year.


Holy cow! I was so focused on the heat wave in the SC and SE I didn't even notice how hot Phoenix has been. In fact, August tied July of 2009 as the hottest single month on record in Phoenix with an average of 98.3°. Add it to the list!

Thanks for this heads up!
Member Since: February 15, 2006 Posts: 265 Comments: 248
2. petewxwatcher
8:26 PM GMT on September 05, 2011
Here's another one. Record number of days reaching 110 or more in Phoenix AZ this year.
Member Since: March 24, 2011 Posts: 3 Comments: 392
1. Neapolitan
4:54 PM GMT on September 05, 2011
Thanks, Chris. One of the most amazing stats to me: Amarillo averages six days a year where the temperature reaches 100 degree or more. The previous record, set in 1953, was 26 days; this year there have been 50:

Amarillo

Things there are dry, too:

Amarillo

Still another amazing statistic: the previous record for 100-degree days in Wichita Falls, Texas, was 79; this year there have been 98, and temps are predicted to be close to 100 by next weekend. That means that location may end up with 100 (or more) 100-degree days. Unbelievable...

2011's numbers aren't just beating previous records; they are obliterating them.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13263

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About weatherhistorian

Christopher C. Burt is the author of 'Extreme Weather; A Guide and Record Book'. He studied meteorology at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison.